The Golden Key

Home to the George MacDonald Society

Home to the George MacDonald Society



The New Year

Be welcome, year! With corn and sickle come;
Make poor the body, but make rich the heart:
What man that bears his sheaves, gold-nodding, home
Will heed the paint rubbed from his groaning cart!
Nor leave behind thy fears and holy shames,
Thy sorrows on the horizon hanging low -
Gray gathered fuel for the sunset-flames
When joyous in death's harvest-home we go.

Selected Poems II



"Friends, I believe the day will come when the word 'duty' will be forgotten, except as a matter of history, when the heart, the whole being, will be so filled with love to the right thing, not because it is a duty laid upon us to do, but just because it is what it is ---the loveliness of God --- that we shall never think of its being our duty, but to make haste with our whole nature to do it with gladness and song."

A Spoken Sermon


"The full-grown Christian does not take his joy from himself. He feels joy in himself, but it comes to him from others, not from himself -- from God first, and from somebody, anybody, everybody next... He could do without knowing himself, but he could not know himself and spare one of the brothers or sisters God has given him... His consciousness of himself is the reflex from those about him, not the result of his own turning in of his regard upon himself. It is not the contemplation of what God has made him, it is the being what God has made him, and the contemplation of what God Himself is, and what He has made his fellows, that gives him his joy."

Unspoken Sermons III



 I can only tell you I love you with true heart fervently, and love you far more because you are God's child than because you are mine. I don't thank you for coming to us, for you could not help it, but the whole universe is "tented" with love, and you hold one of the corners of the great love-canopy for your mother and me. I don't think I am very ambitious, except the strong desire to "go where I am" be ambition; and I know I take small satisfaction in looking on my past; but I do live expecting great things in the life that is ripening for me and all mine - when we shall have all the universe for our own, and be good, merry, helpful children in the house of our Father. – AEOC

From a birthday letter to Lilia – 1881

Lilia's Birthday 1852


Thy Heart

Make not of thy heart a casket,
Opening seldom, quick to close;
But of bread a wide-mouthed basket,
Or a cup that overflows.

Collected Poems II


" Jesus Christ I see the very God I want. I want a father like him. He reproaches some of those about him for not knowing him--for, if they had known God, they would have known him. They were to blame for not knowing God. No other than the God exactly like Christ can be the true God. It is a doctrine of devils that Jesus died to save us from our father. There is no safety, no good, no gladness, no purity, but with the Father, his father and our father, his God and our God."

Donal Grant



" I forget that it is live things that God cares about--not things set down in a book, or in memory, or embalmed in the joy of knowledge, but things lifting up the heart, things active in an active will.

"The cause of spiritual stupidity"
Unspoken Sermons series II



"The fact that some things have become to us so much more simple than they were, and that great truths have come out of what once looked common, is ground enough for hope that such will go on to be our experience through ages to come. Our advance from our former ignorance can measure but a small portion of the distance that lies, and must ever lie, between our childishness and his manhood, between our love and his love, between our dimness and his mighty vision."

From 'It shall not be forgiven'



Perhaps nothing helps so much to believe in the Father, as the active practical help of the brother. If he who loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, can ill love God whom he hath not seen, the he who loves his brother must surely find it the easier to love God! Arctura found that to visit the widow and the fatherless in their afflictions; to look on and know them as her kind; to enter into their sorrows, and share the elevating influence of grief genuine and simple, the same in every human soul, was to draw near to God. She met him in his children.

Donal Grant, chapter LII



"Whatever belonging to the region of thought and feeling is uttered in words, is of necessity uttered imperfectly. For thought and feeling are infinite, and human speech...can embody them... but approximately and suggestively."



George MacDonald on acting:

"What society so-called may say or do about it, I simply will not heed one straw. We are only taking up an art that has been unjustly undervalued and left too much to unfit representations. The time is short, and there is none for humbug, whether social or ecclesiastical there is time only for truth and justice and graciousness and lovingkindness, and we hope to learn and teach some of all these. What God has put in us, we will let come out, and not be ashamed."

(December 10 1876; cited in "George MacDonald: Victorian Mythmaker" by Rolland Hein)



The lady then showed Mossy into just such another chamber as that of Tangle, and in the morning he found a suit of clothes laid beside him. He looked very handsome in them. But the wearer of Grandmother's clothes never thinks about he or she looks, but thinks always how handsome other people are.

The Golden Key



"What did you do after I lost you?" she asked. She had a hundred questions to ask him, and he had a hundred more to ask her. They told each other all their adventures, and were as happy as man and woman can be. For they were younger and better, and stronger and wiser, than they had ever been before.

The Golden Key (Mossy and Tangle reunited)

Louisa's death, 1902


Come Down

Still I am haunting
Thy door with my prayers;
Still they are panting
Up the steep stairs!
Woulds't thou not rather
Come down to my heart,
And there, O my Father,
Be what thou art?

Collected Poems II



On the earth when deep snows lie
Still the sun is in the sky,
And when most we miss his fire
He is ever drawing nigher.
In the darkest winter day
Thou, God, art not far away;
When the nights grow colder, drearer,
Father, thou art coming nearer!

From "Coming" Collected Poems II



David's Night Prayer

'O thou wha keeps the stars alicht, an' oor souls burnin' wi' a licht aboon that o' the stars, grant that they may shine afore thee as the stars for ever and ever. An' as thou hauds the stars burnin' a' the nicht whan there's no man to see, so haud thou the licht burnin' in our souls, whan we see neither thee nor it, but are buried in the grave o' sleep an' forgetfu'ness. Be thou by us, even as a mother sits by the bedside o' her ailin' wean a' the long night; only be thou nearer to us, even in our verra souls, an' watch ower the warl' o' dreams that they mak for themsels. Grant that more an' more thochts o' thy thinkin' may come into our herts day by day, till there shall be at last an open road atween thee an' us, an' thy angels may ascend and descend upon us, so that we may be in thy heaven, e'en while we are upo' thy earth. Amen.'

David Elginbrod



We are like to Him with whom there is no past or future, with whom a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, when we do our work in the great present, leaving both past and future to Him to whom they are ever present, and fearing nothing, because He is in our future as much as He is in our past, as much as, and far more than we can feel Him to be in our present. Partakers thus of the divine nature, resting in that perfect All-in-all in whom our nature is eternal too, we walk without fear, full of hope and courage and strength to do His will, waiting for the endless good which He is always giving as fast as He can get us able to take it in.

(Source not located)

Thomas Chandy, birthday


Who knows love all, time nothing, he shall feel
No anxious heart, shall lift no trembling hand;
Tender as air, but clothed in triple steel,
He for his kind, in every age and land,
Hoping will live; and, to his labour bent,
The Father's will shall, doing, understand.

Somnium Mystici -Collected Poems II


I gathered that, by the approach of my hand to a second apple, they knew that I liked the first; but how from that they argued me good, I did not see, nor wondered that one of them at least should suggest caution. I did not open my mouth, for I was afraid of frightening them, and sure I should learn more by listening than by asking questions. For I understood nearly all they said-- at which I was not surprised to understand is not more wonderful than to love.

xii Lilith "THE LITTLE ONES"



More and more I see and feel that what the Father is thinking is my whole treasure and well being. To be one with him seems the only common sense, as well as the only peace. Let him do with you, my beloved son, as he wills. Be hearty with his will. Submission is not the right feeling when we say, "Thy will be done." This will is the only good...

From a birthday letter written to Greville in 1887 AEOC

Greville, 1856


From thine, as then, the healing virtue goes
Into our hearts - that is the Father's plan.
From heart to heart it sinks, it steals, it flows,
From these that know thee still infecting those.
Here is my heart - from thine, Lord, fill it up,
That I may offer it as the holy cup
Of thy communion to my every man.

(from the Diary of an Old Soul)



"Reader, if you are in any trouble, try whether God will not help you. If you are in no need, why should you ask questions about prayer? True, he knows little of himself who does not know that he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; but until he begins at least to suspect a need, how can he pray?"

'The Word of Jesus on Prayer'

from Unspoken Sermons II


From off the earth the vapours curled,
Went up to meet their joy;
The boy awoke, and all the world
Was waiting for the boy!
The sky, the water, the wide earth
Was full of windy play -
Shining and fair, alive with mirth,
All for his holiday!

From "The Golden Key" - Collected Poems II

George Jr. (1867)


It is only in Him that the soul has room. In knowing Him is life and its gladness. The secret of your own heart you can never know; but you can know Him who knows its secret.

The Seaboard Parish, c13.


Each, putting his foot in the footprint of the Master, and so defacing it, turns to examine how far his neighbour's footprint corresponds with that which he still calls the Master's, although it is but his own.

"The Eloi" Unspoken sermons I



"My friends, I offer this as only a contribution towards the understanding of our Lord's words. But if we ask him, he will lead us into all truth. And let us not be afraid to think, for he will not take it ill.

"No amount to discover in his words can tell us more than 'we' have discovered, more than we have seen and known to be true. For all the help the best of his disciples can give us is only to discover, to see for ourselves...."

"It shall not be forgiven" - Unspoken Sermons I


"All day long he sat silent in his cabin; nor could any effort of the captain , or others on board, induce him to go on deck till night came on, when, under the starlight he ventured the open air. The sky soothed him then, he knew not how. For the face of nature is the face of God, and must bear expressions that can influence, though unconsciously to them, the most ignorant and hopeless of His children. "

"The Broken Swords"



Lord, I have spoken a poor parable,
In which I would have said thy name alone
Is the one secret lying in Truth's well,
Thy voice the hidden charm in every tone,
Thy face the heart of every flower on earth,
Its vision the one hope; for every moan
Thy love the cure ! O sharer of the birth
Of little children seated on thy knee !
O human God! I laugh with sacred mirth
To think how all the laden shall go free;
For, though the vision tarry, in healing ruth
One morn the eyes that shone in Galilee
Will dawn upon them, full of grace and truth,
And thy own love - the vivifying core
Of every love in heart of age or youth,
Of every hope that sank 'neath burden sore!

Somnium Mystici - Collected Poems II


"You will yet know the dignity of your high calling, and the love of God that passeth knowledge. He is not afraid of your pesumptuous approach to him. It is you who are afraid to come near him. He is not watching over his dignity. It is you who fear to be sent away as the disciples would have sent away the little children. It is you who think so much about your souls and are so afraid of losing your life, that you dare not draw near to the Life of life, lest it should consume you.

"Our God, we will trust thee. Shall we not find thee equal to our faith? One day, we shall laugh ourselves to scorn that we looked for so little from thee; for thy giving will not be limited by our hoping."

"The Higher Faith"
Unspoken Sermons, I



Thou workest perfectly. And if it seem
Some things are not so well, ‘tis but because
They are too loving-deep, too lofty-wise,
For me, poor child, to understand their laws:
My highest wisdom half is but a dream;
My love runs helpless like a falling stream:
Thy good embraces ill, and lo, its illness dies!

Diary of an Old Soul


"The liberty of the God who would have his creatures free, is in contest with the slavery of the creature who would cut his own stem from his root that he might call it his own and love it; who rejoices in his own consciousness, instead of the life of that consciousness; who poises himself on the tottering wall of his own being, instead of the rock on which that being is built"

Unspoken Sermons III